Customers often bow and kneel when they enter the bar area of the Scottish-themed Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery in Louisville, Ky.
They’re not genuflecting to the restaurant’s venerable Celtic decor. They’re checking out the polished concrete floor that looks like waxed wood planks.
Some visitors just can’t help it, says Rob Greenrose, M R Decorative Concrete, Louisville. Is it wood or is it concrete? They have to touch it to make sure.
Part of a Phoenix, Ariz.,-based chain, the Tilted Kilt restaurant marks off the adults-only bar area from the rest of the family restaurant with a wood floor – or at least one that looks like wood.
The Tilted Kilt specification guide calls for a real or imitation wood floor, said Rob, who conceived, designed and installed the floor. The owners called M R Decorative Concrete in for an estimate on creating a stamped overlay made to look like wood.
Rob said he advised against it because it would be hard to maintain. Tiny grooves for simulating grain in the overlay would trap dirt and other contaminants that would be hard to remove.
Instead, Rob and his partner, Mike Stoltz, confidently suggested they could create a polished concrete floor that would meet the spec for looking like a wood floor – even though they’d never done it before.
“I like the challenge of this kind of project,” Rob said. “I’d much rather tackle 500 square feet of something that’s never been done than spend all day working on an ordinary floor.”
Still, before Rob could get to the artistry, he had to take care of the basics. That meant whipping the 30-year-old concrete slab into shape. The slab had previously been covered with carpet and tile during careers as a brewery and a Mexican restaurant floor.
Rob and company began by dry-grinding with 150-grit metals, followed by 100-grit resins to remove most of the marks and imperfections that didn’t fit into Rob’s scheme.
Then he applied the base color with an acetone stain, cut in the plank lines, and applied the grain pattern with a stencil, and black acetone.
Rob filled the plank line cuts with a cementitious material, and stained them black.
Finding the right material for the stencil was one of the hardest parts of the job, Rob said. It had to be light, durable, cuttable, reusable, and resistant to acetone. He tried several prototypes before meeting success, but won’t say what he finally came up with.
“Trade secret,” Rob says.
With the color down, Rob increased concrete durability and prepped for polishing by applying Consolideck® LS® (lithium silicate) hardener/densifier. Spread with micro-fiber applicators, the hardener/densifier fills the concrete pores with tough calcium silicate hydrate converted from soft calcium hydroxide leftover from curing.
The result is a more durable, less porous concrete surface. Along with additional stain-repellency, the increased abrasion-resistance actually makes the floor faster and easier to polish.
Polishing was the next step. Rob brought an almost mirror-like shine to the floor, polishing with 200-, 400-, 800- and 1500-grit resins.
He protected the finish and increased the shine with a spray- and microfiber pad-application of Consolideck® LSGuard®. The lithium-silicate protective coating adds to the hardening/densifying effect, while creating a shiny micro-thin protective shield.
Rob used a Consolideck® HEAT pad to power-buff the LSGuard®. Friction from the HEAT pad raises the floor temperature to 93 degrees – the temperature required to liquefy and meld the dry LSGuard® into the concrete pores.
The advantage is that you get a glossy coating that’s practically part of the floor and never needs stripping. If the finish appears to dull from traffic, it’s simply re-burnished, or revitalized with a new coat.
“I did some research before I chose the Consolideck® products,” Rob said. “It paid off; they worked great. And we got excellent support from the PROSOCO Manufacturer’s Rep Mark Williams.”
After 18 hours, Rob put the finishing touches on his masterpiece by burnishing up the shine even further with a 3,000 grit resin.
While many of the procedures Rob used to create the floor are common practice, the stencil is what’s unique, and he’s keeping that info under his hat. He offered one clue – if you look closely at the floor, and then at the lacquered wooden bar top, you might begin to figure it out.
Meanwhile, Rob and M R Decorative Concrete are up for new challenges.
“Caricatures, natural stone, we can make concrete floors look like whatever you want,” he said.
Rob laughed. “We’re willing to give it a shot,” he said.
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